In the Box: NFL Week 9

Sports Central | Seth Doria ( Sports Central | Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 )

Before we let this game fade into memory until we need it to hype the AFC Championship Game, three notes:

1. The Pats won, so the story line is way down there on the list of talking points, but the officiating in this game was atrocious. It was so completely one-sided against New England, even the Colts fans/Pats haters I was with were admitting it was terrible. When the Pats were down 10 in the fourth quarter, I was already writing my rant in my mind. I was going to curse and everything. 146 penalty yards for the Pats to 25 for the Colts. It was horrible.

The Pats pulled it out, but that shouldn’t erase the black mark on the crew led by John Parry, and on the NFL for giving the most important regular season game in more than a decade to a crew led by a first-year umpire (promoted from a side judge for this season).

(Note: I’m not alleging bias. I’m alleging incompetence.)

2. When Colts fans say this game has an asterisk because Marvin Harrison didn’t play, Pats fans should respond by arguing Rodney Harrison didn’t play in the AFC Championship Game last year.

Dallas Clark last January not being covered by Rodney Harrison the entire game: 6 receptions for 137 yards.

Clark yesterday being shadowed by Harrison on almost every play: 2 receptions for 15 yards.

I want to see these two teams play at full strength.

3. This is the best Colts defense of the Peyton Manning era — by far. And if the offense converts in the red zone in the first quarter, they probably win this game. Nobody should in any way think we’ve settled the debate over which of these teams is better.

Fantasy Impact: Kevin Faulk is the football equivalent of the glue-guy in basketball, and that keeps Laurence Maroney off the field more than anyone thought going into the season (was on the field for only 23 of 58 offensive plays, not including four kneel downs, according to the best beat blogger in the NFL, Mike Reiss).

With that said, I have to believe Maroney is going to be a factor before all is said and done, perhaps as soon as the Pats’ next game, a Week 11 Sunday nighter at Buffalo. (Upset alert.)

Pittsburgh 38, Baltimore 7: Sunday, December 9, Pittsburgh at New England. If Pats-Colts in Week 9 was Super Bowl XLI 1/2, Pats-Steelers is XLI 3/4.

Also, Steve McNair is washed up. Done. Over. Kaput.

Fantasy Impact: Just when you thought Hines Ward had reclaimed his place at the top of the Steelers’ WR food chain, he gets none of Ben Roethlisberger’s record-tying 5 first-half TDs. Four receptions for 28 yards in a 38-7 blowout. That’s just annoying.

Dallas 38, Philadelphia 17: Terrell Owens is one of those guys you just hate to see happy, but you have to give the guy his due: He can be a damn good player when he feels like it.

By way of historical comparison:

Owens’ career stats (midway through 12 seasons): 845 receptions for 12,445 yards and 120 TD

Michael Irvin (12 seasons): 750 receptions for 11,904 yards and 65 TD

Art Monk (16 seasons): 940 receptions for 12,721 yards and 68 TD

Randy Moss (midway through 9 seasons): 732 receptions for 11,624 yards and 113 TD

Cris Carter (16 seasons): 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards and 130 TD

Marvin Harrison (midway through 12 seasons): 1,042 receptions for 13,944 yards and 123 TD

James Lofton (17 seasons): 764 receptions for 14,004 yards and 75 TD

Jerry Rice (21 seasons): 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards and 197 TD

Jerry Rice (after 12 seasons): 1,050 receptions for 16,377 yards and 154 TD

Irvin and Lofton are in the Hall of Fame. Carter is a nominee in his first year of eligibility (and a lock). Monk is a multiple-time finalist and nominee once again this year. Rice is the best WR ever and will headline the Hall of Fame Class of 2009.

I’m not saying T.O. has his ticket to Canton in hand. I’m sure his ridiculous antics over the years will cause some consternation in the voting room. But with several years remaining in his career (you would think), and an All-Pro QB (Tony Romo) with a great play-calling offensive coordinator (Jason Garrett), it’s not at all unreasonable to think of Owens ending up with some of the best numbers ever at the position.

Fantasy Impact: All you need to know about the Eagles offense is that Brian Westbrook had 14 catches for 90 yards. I’m no Elias Sports Bureau, but I’m guessing the list of players to have 14 catches and not break 100 yards receiving is fairly short.

Houston 24, Oakland 17: The game nobody wanted to see did have two interesting notes:

1. Tim Dwight caught a touchdown pass. That’s right — Tim Dwight, the same guy who retired from the Jets because of repeated concussion problems came back to risk his long-term health to play for a Raiders team that’s going nowhere. You might make the argument that decision is proof enough his mental health has already been damaged beyond repair.

2. Houston isn’t going to make the playoffs, but their ability to compete despite the losses of their best players (Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub) says a whole lot about how the overall roster has improved. It’ll be interesting to see what they can do after their Week 10 bye, with all seven of their remaining games coming against teams that are currently in, or within one game, of playoff position.

Fantasy Impact: In the exact opposite of the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object quandary, Cedric Benson and the 31st ranked Bears rushing attack plays at the Raiders’ 30th ranked rush defense in Week 10.

Cleveland 33, Seattle 30: At 4-4, the Seahawks are in first-place in the NFC West, with their only major competition an Arizona team led by Kurt Warner with Tim Rattay as his back up. At 5-3, the Browns are in second in the NFC North and in for a dogfight for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Sometimes, life just ain’t fair.

Fantasy Impact: Taking a page out of the Jerome Bettis fantasy playbook (old Bus, not young Bus), Jamal Lewis’ line from Sunday: 20 carries for 37 yards (1.9 avg) and 4 TD.

Green Bay 33, Kansas City 22: The most impressive stat in this game is the one sack allowed by Green Bay. The Chiefs defense is one of the best at getting to the QB, and the fact Brett Favre was able to stay on his feet (for the most part) was the difference between winning and losing this game. Great job in protection.

Fantasy Impact: Hope you listened when I told you to pick up Priest Holmes. Larry Johnson’s ankle did not look comfortable.

Tennessee 20, Carolina 7: Vince Young’s passing totals this season: 78, 184, 164, 157, 120, 42, 110. Tennessee is 6-2. In other words, the Titans are what the Falcons would have been under Mike Vick if the Falcons had ever put together a dominating defense.

Fantasy Impact: Drew Brees had more yards passing against Jacksonville than these two teams had total yards combined. If you have anybody on either one of these rosters (except the Titans’ D, Rob Bironas, or Steve Smith), dump them now.

NOW!

Detroit 44, Denver 7: With the resurgence of Brees and the Saints, Travis Henry and the Broncos now hold the dual rank of most disappointing individual and most disappointing team of 2007.

Fantasy Impact: Sentence I wrote in an e-mail to a buddy on Monday morning (edited for publication): “I would have won if I had started Ryan Grant and Julius Jones instead of Henry and Maroney.”

Tampa Bay 17, Arizona 10: Give the Bucs’ coaches the credit on this one. For all the attention Jon Gruden gets as a QB freak, they passed the ball 28 times, ran the ball 46 times. And that’s how you get a 43:07-16:53 time of possession advantage.

Fantasy Impact: When you see a QB go 10-for-30 with no TD and 2 INT, as did Kurt Warner in this game, you expect to see a whole lot of defensive pressure as the catalyst. But the Bucs didn’t record a single sack. I don’t know what it means, but it probably doesn’t bode well for the rest of the Cardinals’ season.

Karma 23, NY Jets 20: Payback wore a Redskins helmet on Sunday, but the logo doesn’t matter. This is a cursed Jets team.

Also, the Jets’ play calling stinks. They need to fire Brian Schottenheimer and steal another Patriots assistant.

Fantasy Impact: The Jets are officially in “start any player who plays against them” territory. With that in mind, the rest of the Jets’ schedule: Bye, Pittsburgh, @Dallas, @Miami, Cleveland, @New England (can’t wait), @Tennessee, Kansas City.

New Orleans 41, Jacksonville 24: Did I mention Drew Brees is back? He has 781 passing yards, 7 TD and no INT in his past two games.

Also of note, he’s been sacked only once in his past five games, shocking considering how much everybody was piling on the Saints’ offensive line early in the season (myself included).

Fantasy Impact: I keep waiting for David Patten to fade back into obscurity, but Devery Henderson seems to have played his way to a permanent seat on the bench, giving Patten a major role in an explosive offense.

Minnesota 35, San Diego 17: All that needs to be said about WalterPaytonEricDickersonBarrySandersJimBrown has been said, so I’ll use this opportunity to point out the NFC went 5-2 against the AFC this weekend. The Pats, Colts, and Steelers are the three best teams in the NFL, but the rest of the AFC isn’t any better than the NFC.

Fantasy Impact: Peterson is what Bo Jackson could have been if Jackson just played football and didn’t get hurt. If they still made Tecmo Bowl, he would be unstoppable.

Buffalo 33, Cincinnati 21: Everybody knows about Peterson, but don’t forget Marshawn Lynch. With his amazing day against the Bengals (153 rush yards, 1 rush TD, 1 pass TD), Lynch now has 690 yards rushing, good four fourth in the NFL. Assuming he gets the 310 he needs to break 1,000, he and Peterson will be the first rookie RB duo to both break 1,000 in the regular season since LaDainian Tomlinson (1,236 with the Chargers) and Anthony Thomas (1,183 for the Bears) in 2001.

Fantasy Impact: Chris Henry is back for Cincinnati. Their season turns around now. They win at Baltimore in Week 10.

Atlanta 20, San Francisco 16: Didn’t the 49ers used to be 2-0?

Sports Central

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